Letter to the Editor: By being proactive, you just may save a life

Dear Editor,

The Crime Victims Program at Catholic Charities Of Chenango County focuses heavily on Domestic Violence (DV) in and around our county. The intention of this letter is three fold: 1) to let the public know exactly what our DV program advocates do for victims of domestic violence; 2) to make the public aware of the amount of domestic violence that happens in this county on a yearly basis; and 3) to let the public know what they can do to help victims of domestic violence.

Domestic Violence advocates meet with DV Victims to assess the situation they present, assist each client in identifying goals and problem areas by discussing their current and past situation, make a safety plan and provide short-term counseling. Advocates will do referrals to other agencies and organizations that can help with such things as housing and will accompany clients to meetings with law enforcement (to file a complaint), Department of Social Services (to apply for necessary services), Family Court (for orders of protection) and any other area where assistance is needed. Advocates work with DV clients considering relocation by helping them assess their financial status, income needs, employment eligibility/potential and need for further financial assistance. Advocates will also help any victim of crime complete and file compensation claims from the New York State Office of Victim Services. All of these services and more are done confidentially. Everything stays between the domestic violence advocate and the domestic violence victim. Advocates are bound by a confidentiality agreement that is reviewed on a yearly basis.

In 2013, advocates met with and assisted 305 victims of domestic violence and their families (in most cases, children). Victims include men against women, women against men, men against men and women against women. Sometimes you cannot see that someone is a victim of domestic violence because they are not physically beaten, they are mentally broken down by their abuser. In many cases, if there is domestic violence in the home, there is also child abuse in the home. This past year, the Crime Victims Program was able to help 41 adults and 67 children seek refuge from their abuser until they were able to get back of their feet and find a safe place to live.

Lastly, what can people do if they are a victim or know a victim of domestic violence? If you are a victim, call our confidential hotline ~ 607-336-1101. Come to Catholic Charities on O’Hara Drive (behind McDonald’s) and ask to see an advocate. If you know that someone is being abused either physically or mentally, you can help them by giving them this information, offer them a ride to seek help, or just encourage them to think about seeking help. No one deserves to be abused and by being proactive, you just may save a life.

Karen Glasbergen

Crime Victims Program Director

Catholic Charities of Chenango County

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